The Whole Person -
"If we taught math in
the same cursory manner in which we teach sexuality,
by the time a child learned to count he would be
considered a master of the discipline."
"The way we teach sexuality is much like how we teach
music. A student of the oboe, say, will likely become
proficient enough to use the equipment, but not skilled
enough to ever actually bring anyone else pleasure with
it." (From Openly
Bob by Bob Smith)
WE LIVE IN A SEXUALLY CHARGED
Some General Assumptions about Sexuality
- All persons are sexual.
- Sexuality is a good part of the human experience.
- Sexuality includes much more than sexual behavior.
- Sexuality is part of who we are, not just what we do.
- Human beings are sexual from the time they are born until they
- It is natural to express sexual feelings in a variety of ways.
- People engage in healthy sexual behavior for a variety of
reasons including to express caring and love, to experience
intimacy and connection with another, to share pleasure, to
bring new life into the world, and to experience fun and
- Sexuality in our society is damaged by violence, exploitation,
alienation, dishonesty, abuse of power, and the treatment of
persons as objects.
- It is healthier for young adolescents to postpone sexual
Why Teach People with DD about Sexuality?
(Info from Geo. Turner)
- Provide accurate information
- Increase self esteem, body knowledge, etc.
- Increase awareness of situations where they could be exploited
- Prevent inappropriate sexual behavior
- enrich their lives
- help them learn to enjoy company of others
- increase successful and effective personal decision making
- prevent public hysteria over inappropriate statements and
- teach responsibility of a sexual person (make informed choices
/ expect and live with consequences)
- Provide insight into self, relationships, marriage, etc.
- help them communicate about sex with others without guilt or
SEXUAL BEING (From Our Whole Lives Grade 7-9, 1999)
5 Components of a person's Sexual Being:
|1. Sensuality - Awareness,
acceptance of, and comfort with one's own body;
physiological and psychological enjoyment of one's own
body and the bodies of others.
- Body Image
- Human Sexual Response Cycle
- Skin Hunger
|2. Intimacy - The ability
and need to experience emotional closeness to another human
being and have it returned.
- Risk Taking
|3. Sexual Identity - The
development of a sense of who one is sexually, including a
sense of maleness and femaleness.
- Gender Identity
- Gender Role
- Sexual Orientation
- Biological Sex (the plumbing and parts)
|4. Sexual Health and Reproduction -
Attitudes and behaviors related to producing children, care
and maintenance of the sex and reproductive organs, and
health consequences of sexual behavior.
- Factual Information
- Feelings and Attitudes
- Sexual/Reproductive Systems
- Anatomy & Physiology of Reproductive Organs
|5. Sexualization - The use
of sexuality to influence, control, or manipulate others.
- Sexual Harassment
- Withholding Sex or Bargaining with Sex
- Seduction / Flirting
- Exploitative Use of Sexuality
Sexuality Challenges for people with Developmental
Disabilities (From Geo. Turner)
- Separate myth from fact (we fill in the blanks where there is
- lack of privacy
- challenge of learning to take reasonable risks
- learning to make good decisions about sex
- learn boundaries - "who does my body belong to?"
- transportation limits
- poor communication and interpersonal skills
- Social Bias - "you don't need this!", "child in adult body",
attributions of being over/under sexed
- reproductive bias - the only "good" sex is in marriage
- Intercourse bias - "real" sex is intercourse (as in the name
of "foreplay" being that it is before the actual sex, it isn't
really anything in and of itself)
- Socialization to please the staff - the staff control all
resources, you dare not upset them.
- Vulnerability to sexual exploitation
- Inappropriate sexual expression - generally due to lack of
exposure to appropriate forms of sexual expression.
Regarding Sexuality and Disability:
Development of Healthy Sexual Identity
- Tendency to attribute hyper and/or hypo sexuality.
- With casting people with disability into "child" role, love
- Social attitude that sex is for the young & beautiful -
where does that place disability issues?
- Reading from No Pity about
"Developing a positive sexual self-image is an important
part of adolescence. As with all youths, this can be problematic
for youths with disabilities who do not meet the artificial
standards of beauty and physical prowess set in today's media and
mainstream culture. Adult role models can help provide more
realistic understanding and social opportunities to facilitate
normal sexual development. In families without similarly disabled
adults, these role models may need to be found outside the family.
Adolescents will view themselves as sexual beings when parents and
others relate to them in a way that assumes they will marry or
develop other long term relationships as adults.
Overprotectiveness and avoidance of sexuality and relationships
can lead adolescents to internalize messages that they are
asexual. Finally, sexual knowledge is critical - both knowledge
about sexuality in general and the specific implications of the
disability on sexuality. Adolescents need opportunities for
self-exploration. In addition, group and educational programs
about sexuality and disability can aid positive psychosexual
"...If their bodies are objectified by others during care,
therapy, examinations, and other procedures, they may come to
view their bodies as asexual. Adolescents (and others) with
disabilities are also more susceptible to sexual abuse by
providers and others who may take advantage of their
vulnerabilities. Sexual abuse can occur at any age, and
environments that discourage victimization and help adolescents
(and others) exercise sexual self-determination are important
for personal and sexual growth.
"People who acquire disabilities as adolescents face added
challenges that those who enter adolescence with disabilities do
not have. Commonly, they carry stereotypical ableist attitudes
that can hamper acceptance of a disability. Families can be
thrown into crisis.
(From Mackelprang & Salsgiver, page 70)
Interesting Internet Sites
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS)
Annotated biblio on sex & disability
|Last Modified July 15, 2012